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§ Nice Art: Evan “Doc” Shaner loves to draw underwater scenes…and we like it when he does. A lot of people loved this issue, BTW.

 

§ There has been very little kibbling and bitting here at the Beat for months, partly due to my sleep schedule changing (I’m getting some) but also, the internet keeps stealing my tools! One of my main resources for doing a link round-up was Nuzzel, a free service that aggregated links that people I follow on Twitter were tweeting about. If something was a hot topic, I would soon be alerted — and once in a while it was even something on The Beat, which was always very gratifying.

Unfortunately Twitter just bought Scroll,  the company that owns Nuzzel, and while they say they want to add its features to Twitter, instead, the day after the deal went through they completely removed Nuzzel from the web, right down to the blog post that explained it was going away. Because if you want to build a service, killing it dead is definitely the way maintain users!

Twitter has a pretty awful track record with other software — remember Vine? The pre-TikTok video snippet platform was a weirdo niche platform with a cult following, but rather than keep it around, Twitter killed it dead, allowing TikTok to become TikTok.

But Twitter has some other plans, according to the Verge:

It’s a little difficult to divine exactly what Twitter intends to do with Scroll. Twitter is absolutely building a subscription service that will put together a bunch of services, but what exactly will be included, what it will cost, and who will share in the revenue is only known to Twitter (assuming it has a long-term vision, which until recently was not a great bet).

I’m not going to hold my breath for Nuzzel to ever come back.

I’ve been testing a bunch of Nuzzel replacements mentioned by other fans, but none of them are as easy and effective. (Ironically Nuzzel itself was once floated as a replacement for Zite, another now-vanished link sharing software package.)

Of course, none of this is your problem. Over the years you’ll find many cloud-yelling posts from me here bemoaning this or that sunsetted software. It does follow a trend I’ve noted of late, however — information is not wanting to be free any more, and as big tech media consolidates more and more, they want their micropayments. Which, I’m sympathetic to.  But $10 here and $6 there adds up. One service that I tested, Mail Brew, is now asking me to sign up for a pro account: $10 a month to send me some poorly curated Twitter links. No thanks!

But anyway, I’ve been trying to find a new workflow for this, and I’ll find a new one, probably based on RSS feeds, another incredibly useful technology that big tech absolutely detests because it’s free and effective. Because what goes around comes around on the web, I’ve found. Remember when message boards were dead? Then why are you always telling me to go on Discord? Remember when newsletters were dead? Ha ha ha. Simple, effective means of communication never go out of style.

Speaking of which, the tip line is always open! People always assume that I know everything and see everything, but tipsters are a huge part of that so feel free to let me or other Beat staffers know what’s going on.

ANYWAY, let’s try to go through this pile of links!

§ In very sad news, Pantheon editorial director Dan Frank passed away at age 67 recently. Frank was a huge influence at the much respected imprint, but was also a champion of their graphic novel publishing long ago before it was fashionable. Frank worked very closely with Art Spiegelman after Maus became a classic at Pantheon, and later with Chip Kidd on Pantheon’s graphic novels. I spoke with him or appeared on panels with him several times, and he was always gracious and thoughtful. He was absolutely a key figure in the rise of the graphic novel in America and it’s a huge loss. Condolences to his family and friends.

CONVENTION ROUND-UP

Looks like live events are coming back!

• MICE, a Boston-based indie comics show, has announced plans for a small, local in- person event this summer, to be held outside, which is super sensible.

Summer 2021: An in-person outdoor Mini-MICE! Because there’s nothing like meeting creators and discovering comics in person, we are in the process of putting together an outdoor Mini-MICE! Join us on August 28 – 29, 2021 at Starlight Square in Cambridge for a smaller, open-air summer market with a very local focus. Applications to exhibit at Mini-MICE will open to Massachusetts residents on June 1. We will be announcing more details in June, so please check back here, join our mailing list, or follow us on social media. We can’t wait to see you again.

§ Long Island’s Eternal Con is also coming back in person in August, with a new venue at Hofstra University, their 93,000 sq. ft. sports complex.

The Long Island comic convention is returning on Aug. 7 and 8 at a new location: Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex in Hempstead. “The pandemic has been a scary time for everyone, but now we all see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Frank Patz, event founder. “We wanted to get our community back together to do something fun again.” Now in its eighth year, the weekend pop culture event — formerly staged at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum and the Cradle of Aviation Museum — will include a cosplay contest for adults, celebrity Q&As, panel discussions, seminars, movie and TV car displays, and celebrity meet-and-greets.

§ But not everything is coming back just yet: BlizzCon 2021 will not happen in its traditional November slot.

Unlike last year, the cancellation of BlizzCon won’t be replaced by an online-only event similar to the one that took place in February. According to Smith’s blog post, the BlizzCon organizers are looking to hold another event in early 2022, but it’ll be a hybrid convention, which combines some aspects of BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings. More information on this new event will be released at a later date.

§ And speaking of outdoor events, they are definitely coming back. AdHouse Books cartoonist Steven Christie held a weekend signing for his new book, Turtlenecks, and got a very special visitor, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer…who tweeted about the experience.

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Turtlenecks is not a book about the importance of infrastructure, but rather:

The Turtlenecks are a heist-based performance art collective who specialise in stealing conceptual artworks. Not just the art objects, but the concepts that surround and protect them too. It’s an art-world satire propelled by an action-packed heist performance piece.

Chuck Schumer, full of surprises.

§ On another note, as more and more things open up because of vaccinations, I’d love to see more outdoor events like this, for those too squeamish to go inside with a crowd.

§ David Harper has a no-paywall profile of Random House Graphic publishing director Gina Gagliano, and this piece is long overdue. (Disclosure, I am quoted in it).

That’s who Gina Gagliano is, though. A “force of nature,” as Siegel put it, and one who lives and breathes comics in a way few can truly match. She’s someone whose singular talents and unstoppable love for graphic novels have helped grow and shape the medium over the past 15 plus years, making her, in my opinion, one of the most important people in comics of this century — even if you may be unfamiliar with who she is and the part she played in doing that.

Gina is truly one of the most important figures in the comics industry of this century, from her work at First Second to launching RHG during a pandemic and assembling her fantastic team there. She’s not really a horn tooter, but we all know it’s true.

§ It was a great month for really excellent cartoonist profiles. Keiler Roberts was the subject of a wonderful piece in the Chicago Tribune by Christopher Borelli.

Knowing her primarily through her comics — which are serene, detached, prosaic and seemingly about nothing more than whatever’s going on with her that day, eating ice cream in a Dairy Queen parking lot, messing up her online shopping order, sitting on the couch with her head thrown back as her daughter reads a book in her lap — I can vouch that her work gives off a kind of radical stillness. It always lowers my blood pressure. “Which is the best effect I could hope for,” she told me.

Roberts’ new book, My Begging Chart, is out this month from D&Q. Here’s a page and a link to an excerpt.

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§ A California court has dismissed the case charging transphobic assault against actress Rosario Dawson: 

In a new statement from Dawson’s rep, the actress said the case fell apart because it wasn’t true. “My family is pleased that this baseless suit is over. While the vast majority of the false claims had been voluntarily withdrawn last year—including every single false claim of discrimination—today the court terminated the remainder of the case allowing us all to move forward.” Finley, who had most recently been representing himself in the case, did not reply to a request for comment left on the phone number listed in court filings, or to an email address designated as his contact in the documents. There also was no response to a direct message sent to him via Facebook, and a call to a publicly listed business line revealed it was no longer active. In the motion granting Dawson’s request for dismissal, the court noted: “Finley did not file an opposition.”

Plaintiff Dedrick Finley’s attorney left the case several months ago. While legally, this is as final as it gets (for now) the resolution of the case will be little noticed, while the charges will continue to be litigated on social media for a long time.

AND NOW BACK TO HOLLYWOOD

§ It’s been a time of turmoil in Hollywood with too many long think pieces to even read! This week’s bombshell was Amazon buying MGM for nearly $9 billion, in hopes of getting more and more content.

Amazon spent $11 billion on music and video content in 2020, up from $7.8 billion in 2019, according to Convergence Research Group. That amount is expected to grow to $15.5 billion this year, the firm forecasts. Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series alone is estimated to cost $465 million for one season. Paying nearly $9 billion for MGM represents a significant step up. Hollywood executives have questioned whether MGM was worth the purchase price — valuing it closer to $6 billion. However, Amazon, with a market capitalization of $1.6 trillion, can clearly afford it. “The MGM library is very well regarded,” said Corey Martin, a managing partner at the law firm Granderson Des Rochers. “There are titles there that are award-winning, titles that are culturally relevant. The gravitas that would come with that would certainly further legitimize what Amazon is seeking to accomplish in the content sector.”

This story ends with a quote from a lawyer:

Schuyler Moore, a partner at the law firm Greenberg Glusker, said he expects more consolidation. Studios previously had so much power because they controlled distribution, but that’s changed in the streaming world, in which studios have become production houses for streamers. “The truth is, whoever controls distribution wins,” Moore said. “Content is not king. Distribution is king.”

Which, I hope he just got carried away talking to a journalist from the LA Times because that is utterly stupid. Just ask AT&T or some viral TikTok kid if simply owning a platform means people will look at it.

§ Meanwhile, Hollywood is desperate for more distribution content, turning to video games for potential hits, the NYTimes reports.

For 28 years, ever since “Super Mario Bros.” arrived in cinemas with the tagline “This Ain’t No Game,” Hollywood has been trying and mostly failing — epically, famously — to turn hit video games into hit movies. For every “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), which turned Angelina Jolie into an A-list action star, there has been a nonsensical “Max Payne” (2008), an abominable “Prince of Persia” (2010) and a wince-inducing “Warcraft” (2016). If video games are the comic books of our time, why can’t Hollywood figure out how to mine them accordingly?

However, films are getting better, as Detective Pikachu and even Sonic showed.

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§ Here is a great, great piece about Randall Park and Adrian Tomine and their plans to make a movie out of Shortcomings, Tomine’s graphic novel, a process much slowed by the fact that Hollywood doesn’t think Asian American people have stories?

For that last decade or so, Tomine has resisted a film adaptation of Shortcomings, partly because of how appalled he was by how studio executives approached his book when it first came out.  “The experience between then and now is night and day,” he said. “I mean, I hit a lot of brick walls immediately when I first tried to do it. The closest I got would be one meeting, and they were often heartbreaking. I did an in-person meeting with someone, and, you know, I was overly optimistic already, but right off the bat they said, ‘How hard would it be to rewrite the script so that it would be castable?’” That was code for something very specific. “Well, turn it into white people, I think,” Tomine said.

and

Park discovered Shortcomings in a comic book shop back in late 2007, when he was in his early 30s and still a struggling actor getting by on bit parts in comedies, crime shows, and soap operas. “I remember getting it at the Giant Robot Store on Sawtelle Boulevard in L.A.,” Park said, speaking from his office via Zoom, with a framed cover of Shortcomings hanging on the wall behind him. “I remember flipping through it at the store and was just like, I gotta get this book. I was walking out the store, flipping through the pages—I couldn’t put it down—and immediately I just searched for all of Adrian’s stuff that was out there.”

§ Oh now this sounds juicy! Doctor Strange 2: Why Scott Derrickson And C. Robert Cargill Left The Marvel Sequel. Well I’m reading it and reading it and….

It was creative differences. [Scott Derrickson] wanted to do one movie, and Marvel wanted to do another movie.

That’s it? We already knew that! Hrmph.

 

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§ LUCKILY, Zack Snyder is continuing his very chatty and revealing media tour! For instance, if Ben Affleck had dropped out of the Dark Knightish Batman role, Snyder would have cast….Belgian actor and filmmaker Matthias Schoenaerts.

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“I was talking to him a lot about it,” said Snyder. “He never got in the suit, but I did do a bunch of mock-ups of him, because Ben was on the fence. And I don’t blame him. Everyone should be on the fence when you’re asked, ‘Do you want to play Batman?’” Schoenaerts, who was in his 30s at the time of these conversations, has said he felt he was too young to play a mid-40s Batman.

A few things found on social media:

 

§ The embed isn’t working, but check out the cool electronic cover for the Loki issue of EW! 

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